Bloomingdale and Michigan Park are the City’s Hottest Neighborhoods…Literally


Bloomingdale and Michigan Park are the City’s Hottest Neighborhoods…Literally

Temperatures were off to the races in late August when cars whizzed around Washington and Baltimore, armed with digital sensors, scoping out which parts of these sweaty cities swelter the most. Data was logged every second, 75,000 measurements were processed and then mapped. The data was collected as part of a field campaign funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to better understand the urban heat island effect in the two cities. Heat islands are caused by high concentrations of asphalt and concrete, which pump up temperatures. In Washington, the neighborhoods of Queens Chapel, Michigan Park and Bloomingdale, and iIn Baltimore, the neighborhoods of Penn-Fallsway…, as the hottest neighborhoods in the area.

Temperatures varied across sections of the city by as many as 17 degrees when the field campaign was conducted in Washington on Aug. 28, one of the summer’s hottest days. Several neighborhoods saw temperatures shoot up to 102 degrees. But other locations, also within the confines of the District, merely hit 85. Many Washingtonians have long fled to the mountains or to the Atlantic beaches, driving hours at great expense, to escape Washington’s oppressive summertime heat. The National Arboretum and areas of Ivy City and Brentwood contain a difference of 10F within just a few city blocks. The radical temperature changes over short distances show just how important urban planning and the presence of green space can be for comfort and, during dangerously hot weather, human health and safety. Policies could also be developed to support efforts to alter the environment in the hottest areas by introducing green space and changing building materials and design practices. Studies have shown these efforts can lower temperatures.

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The 6 Best Apps For Planning a Room Layout & Design


The 6 Best Apps For Planning a Room Layout & Design

What a time to be planning room layouts! Lucky for us, we now have access to a treasure trove of user-friendly apps to help us create floor plans and virtually design our rooms—taking a lot of the guesswork out of everything from gauging the right-sized furniture for our space, to assessing how a paint color will look, to putting entire rooms together in virtual reality before we take the plunge IRL.


Magic Plan - is a free app (in-app purchases $2-200) that lets users create floor plans based on their photos. According to the product description, there is "no need to measure or draw" so it's a good option for users who have minimal experience creating floor plans.

Room Scan Pro - draws floor plans by itself". Users simply hold a phone up to a wall which scans the circumference of a room (a voice-activated prompt states "hold against wall until you hear a beep"). Reviews note there is a bit of a learning curve to using the app but also praise its effectiveness in accurate floor plan creation.

Floor Plan Creator - allows users to create detailed floor plans in 3D. Reviews praise the app's usefulness when furniture shopping to gauge whether potential furniture will fit in the context of specific room dimensions.


Room Creator - lets users design a room interior in "10 minutes or less" by entering room dimensions, designing floor patterns, choosing wall colors, and adding in decor.

Amikasa - allows users to create room layouts using furniture and home decor from real brands—about as mistake-proof as you can get in room planning. The app also has cool features like a walk-through mode that allows users to take a virtual tour of their newly created rooms to get a feel for the room design and layout, and the option to share the room via social media for input and advice.

Home Design 3D - The app receives praise for its high level of detail while still remaining easy to use, and the latest version even offers an online 3D-printing option.


Title Insurance Explained


Title Insurance Explained

What is Title Insurance?

If you’re like most house hunters, you’ve spent plenty of time learning about real estate and mortgages. However, there is a third leg of the transaction that is just as important as the others. Title Insurance protects both real estate owners and lenders against loss or damage occurring from liens, encumbrances, or defects in the title or actual ownership of a property. Unlike traditional insurance, which protects against future events, title insurance protects against claims for past occurrences. The most common claims you are protected from include property ownership by another person, fraud or forgery of the title documents, unidentified easements, outstanding lawsuits, and liens against the property.

Do you need Title Insurance?

When you purchase a home, you expect to enjoy certain benefits from ownership. For example, you should be able to occupy and use the property as you wish, to be free from debts or obligations not created or agreed to by you, and to be able to freely sell or use your property as security for a loan. Title insurance is designed to protect these rights.

So what happens if you have a problem after you have purchased the home?

As soon as there is a hint of a claim adverse to your title, you should contact your title insurer or the agent who issued your policy. Title insurance includes coverage for legal expenses, which may be necessary to investigate, litigate or settle an adverse claim. There are also different levels of title insurance, which we’ll discuss below.

How much does title insurance cost?

The cost varies, primarily depending on the value of your property. The important thing to remember is that you only pay once (at your closing), then the coverage continues in effect for so long as you own the property. If you should die, the coverage automatically continues for the benefit of your heirs. If you sell your property, giving warranties of title to your buyer, your coverage continues. Likewise, if a buyer gives you a mortgage to finance their purchase, your coverage continues to protect your interest in the property.

Why is there a lender’s policy and an owner’s policy?

There are two types of title insurance: owner's title insurance, called an Owner’s Policy, and lender’s title insurance, called a Loan Policy. Most lenders require a Loan Policy when they issue you a loan. The Loan Policy is usually based on the dollar amount of your loan. It only protects the lender's interests in the property should a problem with the title arise. It does not protect the buyer. The policy amount decreases as you pay down your loan and eventually disappears as the loan is paid off.

An Owner's Policy is usually issued in the amount of the real estate purchase. It is purchased for a one-time fee at closing and lasts for as long as you have an interest in the property. Only an Owner's Policy protects the buyer should a covered title problem arise.

What types of claims or risks are covered by title insurance?

There are typically two types of coverage – standard and extended coverage. Below is a list of risk that most standard coverage title insurance policies cover:

  • Forgery and impersonation;

  • Lack of competency, capacity or legal authority of a party;

  • Deed not joined in by a necessary party (co-owner, heir, spouse, corporate officer, or business partner);

  • Undisclosed (but recorded) prior mortgage or lien;

  • Undisclosed (but recorded) easement or use restriction;

  • Erroneous or inadequate legal descriptions;

  • Lack of a right of access; and

  • Deed not properly recorded.

  • An extended coverage policy may be requested to protect against such additional defects as:

  • Off-record matters, such as claims for adverse possession or prescriptive easement;

  • Deed to land with buildings encroaching on land of another;

  • Incorrect survey;

  • Silent (off-record) liens (such as mechanics' or estate tax liens); and

  • Pre-existing violations of subdivision laws, zoning ordinances or CC&R's.

  • Subject to availability in your locale, First American's EAGLE Policy covers all of the risks listed above, plus:

  • Post-policy forgery;

  • Forced removal of improvements due to lack of building permit (subject to deductible);

  • Post-policy construction of improvements by a neighbor onto insured land; and

  • Location and dimensions of insured land (survey not required).

What is typically covered by Extended Coverage title insurance?

When purchasing title insurance, be sure to ask your provider what types of policies are available to you. Some of the more common policy enhancements included with Extended Coverage includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Mechanics Liens;

  • Cannot use the land for Single-Family Residence because the use violates a zoning restriction;

  • Unrecorded lien by a homeowner’s association;

  • Building permit violations;

  • Post-policy forgery;

  • Lack of vehicular and/or pedestrian access;

  • Post-policy adverse possession;

  • Added coverage leads to additional marketability


Property Tax Appeal Process


Property Tax Appeal Process

One of the more informative DC real estate blogs, UrbanTurf, recently outlined the property tax appeal process. Here's what to do if you don't agree with your assessment...

1. Get started right away. Your appeal must be filed on or before April 1

2. Call your assessor. The contact information for the person who assessed your property should be listed on the assessment that came in the mail. You can call and get an idea of why the home was assessed at the value on the assessment and why it might have changed from a previous year.

3. Gather your evidence. OTR warns that you should be specific in your appeal and have hard evidence to back up your claims.

4. File a first-level appeal. You can claim that the assessment is incorrect based on the home’s estimated market value (a recent appraisal, for example), and several over factors.

5. Appeal to the Real Property Tax Appeals Commission within 45 days of having a first-level appeal denied.

6. Appeal to the DC Superior Court. As a last resort, property owners can appeal RPTAC’s decision to the DC Superior Court






First-Timers Lead Surge of New Mortgages


First-Timers Lead Surge of New Mortgages

Young Americans are hitting more and more homeownership roadblocks: crippling student debt, escalating home prices, surging mortgage rates and a scarcity of listings. Yet they've gone on a buying binge!

First-time buyers accounted for 46 percent of new mortgages in the first quarter, the biggest quarterly share in data going back to 2012. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors puts the median age of first-timers in the U.S. at 32.

It appears that young people, helped by easier credit and an improving job market, are acting fast as rents rise...




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